Eminescu was only 20 when Titu Maiorescu, the top literary critic in 1870 Romania dubbed him "a real poet", in an essay where only a handful of the Romanian poets of the time were spared Maiorescu's harsh criticism. In the following decade, Eminescu's notability as a poet grew continually thanks to (1) the way he managed to enrich the literary language with words and phrases from all Romanian regions, from old texts, and with new words that he coined from his wide philosophical readings; (2) the use of bold metaphors, much too rare in earlier Romanian poetry; (3) last but not least, he was arguably the first Romanian writer who published in all Romanian provinces and was constantly interested in the problems of Romanians everywhere. He defined himself as a Romantic, in a poem addressed To My Critics (Criticilor mei), and this designation, his untimely death as well as his bohemian lifestyle (he never pursued a degree, a position, a wife or fortune) had him associated with the Romantic figure of the genius. As early as the late 1880s, Eminescu had a group of faithful followers. His 1883 poem Luceafărul was so notable that a new literary review took its name after it.

The most realistic psychological analysis of Eminescu was written by I. L. Caragiale, who, after the poet's death published three short care articles on this subject: In Nirvana, Irony and Two notes. Caragiale stated that Eminescu's characteristic feature was the fact that "he had an excessively unique nature". Eminescu's life was a continuous oscillation between introvert and extrovert attitudes.

That's how I knew him back then, and that is how he remained until his last moments of well-being: cheerful and sad; sociable and crabbed; gentle and abrupt; he was thankful for everything and unhappy about some things; here he was as abstemious as a hermit, there he was ambitious to the pleasures of life; sometimes he ran away from people and then he looked for them; he was carefree as a Stoic and choleric as an edgy girl. Strange medley! – happy for an artist, unhappy for a man!

The portrait that Titu Maiorescu made in the study Eminescu and poems emphasizes Eminescu's introvert dominant traits. Titu Maiorescu promoted the image of a dreamer who was far away from reality, who did not suffer because of the material conditions that he lived in, regardless of all the ironies and eulogies of his neighbour, his main characteristic was "abstract serenity".

In reality, just as one can discover from his poems and letters and just as Caragiale remembered, Eminescu was seldom influenced by boisterous subconscious motivations. Eminescu's life was but an overlap of different-sized cycles, made of sudden bursts that were nurtured by dreams and crises due to the impact with reality. The cycles could last from a few hours or days to weeks or months, depending on the importance of events, or could even last longer, when they were linked to the events that significantly marked his life, such as his relation with Veronica, his political activity during his years as a student, or the fact that he attended the gatherings at the Junimea society or the articles he published in the newspaper Timpul. He used to have a unique manner of describing his own crisis of jealousy.

You must know, Veronica, that as much as I love you, I sometimes hate you; I hate you without a reason, without a word, only because I imagine you laughing with someone else, and your laughter doesn't mean to him what it means to me and I feel I grow mad at the thought of somebody else touching you, when your body is exclusively and without impartasion to anyone. I sometimes hate you because I know you own all these allures that you charmed me with, I hate you when I suspect you might give away my fortune, my only fortune. I could only be happy beside you if we were far away from all the other people, somewhere, so that I didn't have to show you to anybody and I could be relaxed only if I could keep you locked up in a bird house in which only I could enter.

National poet

He was soon proclaimed Romania's national poet, not because he wrote in an age of national revival, but rather because he was received as an author of paramount significance by Romanians in all provinces. Even today, he is considered the national poet of Romania, Moldova, and of the Romanians who live in Bucovina.

Iconography

Eminescu is omnipresent in today's Romania. His statues are everywhere; his face was on the 1000-lei banknotes issued in 1991, 1992, and 1998, and is on the 500-lei banknote issued in 2005 as the highest-denominated Romanian banknote (see Romanian leu); Eminescu's Linden Tree is one of the country's most famous natural landmarks, while many schools and other institutions are named after him. The anniversaries of his birth and death are celebrated each year in many Romanian cities, and they became national celebrations in 1989 (the centennial of his death) and 2000 (150 years after his birth, proclaimed Eminescu's Year in Romania).

Several young Romanian writers provoked a huge scandal when they wrote about their demystified idea of Eminescu and went so far as to reject the "official" interpretation of his work.

International legacy

A monument jointly dedicated to Eminescu and Allama Iqbal was erected in Islamabad, Pakistan on 15 January 2004, commemorating Pakistani-Romanian ties, as well as the dialogue between civilizations which is possible through the cross-cultural appreciation of their poetic legacies. In 2004, the Mihai Eminescu Statue was erected in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.